What symbol is critical to the theme of heritage in "Everyday Use"?

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Names are also symbols of heritage in the story "Everyday Use." Mama, the narrator of the story, names her older daughter Dee. However, when Dee, who is better educated than her mother and younger sister, Maggie, comes to visit, Dee says her name is now Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. Dee claims that the name Dee is symbolic of her oppression, so she takes an African-influenced name. In abandoning her name, Dee also abandons family tradition. She is named after her aunt Dicie, Mama's sister. Her aunt was named after her Grandmother Dee, who was named after her mother. The name "Dee" goes back in the family to the Civil War. By changing her name, Dee is abandoning her family's traditions and heritage. Her mother can't even pronounce her daughter's new name, and it's as if Dee doesn't appreciate the value of what came before her. 

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The Johnson family quilts are a crucial symbol to understand heritage in this story. For Mama and Maggie, these quilts are meant to be used, just as heritage is something that continues to exist and is alive in the present. Dee, on the other hand, considers the quilts to be representative of a heritage that is in the past. She thinks the quilts should not be used as they were intended; instead, they should be preserved and displayed. Mama and Maggie do not put their heritage on display; rather, they live it by using these quilts (as well as other items that have been handmade by members of the family through the years) every day; this accounts for the story's title, "Everyday Use." Dee thinks it's "backward" of Maggie to use the quilts because they will fall apart, but Mama and Dee believe it only makes sense to use them and remember the people who made them (Dee doesn't even know the family stories). Although Maggie and Dee both appreciate the quilts, they see those quilts—and the concept of heritage—quite differently.

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